Pacific Crest Trail 2018 ~ US Visa Update

I’ve decided to re-apply for a US Visa in September. It’ll soon come around. Hopefully Trump is quite welcoming of English people :). If it is declined, I won’t be trying a third time. In my opinion, I’m an ideal candidate for a Tourist Visa but they’re weird.

I need to know either way. This is sort of a deciding factor to me as to what equipment to buy. For example, if it’s declined, I’ll get a warmer sleeping bag. If it’s accepted, I’ll get a -7c sleeping bag.

Expect to see my gear list change a lot after September :). Check out lighterpack if you haven’t already.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 specification rumours

Rumours of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, its specifications and looks, are beginning to spread like wild-fire. Samsung had reportedly already confirmed the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 would be released this year. Whether it’ll be released under this name is not known for certain.

I owned the previous model, and it was fabulous. The first phone to be waterproof with a USB 3.1 port I could use for RAW file backups. I have missed it ever since, and I have considered buying the Samsung Galaxy S8 which is basically the same thing–without a pen. However, I really, really liked the pen. I thought it was well designed and implemented.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is expected to have awesome specifications but the screen frightens me

  • 6.2-6.4 inch 3840×2160 Super AMOLED curved Infinity Display comparable to the Samsung Galaxy S8+ but slightly larger
  • S Pen
  • Iris scanner
  • Screen embedded fingerprint scanner or a fingerprint scanner located on the back
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 836 chip, 6GB RAM
  • Vertical dual lens cameras on the back
  • USB 3.1 USB-C connectivity
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • IP68 certification
  • 64GB built in storage, microSD expansion
  • Fast charging and wireless charging support

What is to dislike? Well, the screen is arguably too big. I thought the previous model had a great screen, and perhaps if they slim some of the bezel at the top and bottom, like they have with the Samsung Galaxy S8, it can be bigger without increasing the size of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, but for a 6.4 inch screen, they’re going to have to make the phone physically larger than the Samsung Galaxy S8+. According to the rumours, the top and bottom bezels have been slimmed down even more compared to the Samsung Galaxy S8 so that’s nice to know, and perhaps I’m fussing over nothing. I am almost certainly going to buy the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 as soon as it is released–some are saying that might be in August and others are saying September.

I have always raved over the latest Samsung phones and I believe they’re considerably better–for a photographer–than Apple anything at the moment for the sole reason that the USB port is considerably faster.


Sony a7rII 4.0 Firmware Update and Garmin Fenix 5x Firmware Update

The Sony a7rII and Garmin Fenix 5x received new firmware updates yesterday. It’s purely coincidental that they’ve been released around the same time.

I haven’t noticed any issues with either item yet. I must say, I’m quite impressed with the speed at which Garmin is updating their devices, especially the Garmin Fenix 5x as it’s probably not their best selling model (the slightly cheaper models tend to sell more.)

The Sony a7rII 4.0 Firmware Update is extremely lack-lustre. The menu system is the same old, same old; I was hoping they would add a “my-menu system”. There’s still no way to magnify a portion of the screen and keep the over-all composition, so that you can focus and compose at the same time with manual focus lenses. You still cannot set the electronic first curtain shutter to disable automatically past 1/2000 second shutter speed, and the “crop mode” still effects both video and still photography at the same time–it should be independent.

It’s a great camera, but I think Sony could do much, much better when it comes to firmware improvements.

General update and some ideas I have in mind

I’m not a very superstitious person and I’m certainly not religious, but I worry that if I say how excellent something is or I talk about my plans too much, something bad will happen, haha.

After my Canadian eTA was approved, I’ve been feeling quite a bit of positivism. I’ve decided that I’m definitely going to apply for a US Visa again, probably late August 2017. I don’t think anyone really understands how badly I still want to hike the Pacific Crest Trail :).

I’ve bought a few gadgets over the last few years that I can bring, and recently I bought a Garmin Fenix 5x which I’ve written a bit about in earlier posts. So far, my experiences have been very good. There are some bugs with the Garmin Fenix 5x 2.40 firmware and a firmware update should hopefully fix them. I notice that when I pause a “walk” and click “resume later” and then resume the “walk” later on, there’s often errors with the latter part of the activity. I am hoping this is just a software issue and not a hardware problem with my Garmin Fenix 5x. A certain amount of bugs are to be expected with new products (especially from this company) but so far, I’ve been quite impressed with it.

I’ve thought “how useful are maps on such a small device” and thought about the practicality of it when the honeymoon phase is over, but they are honestly quite useful. It’s better than having to forage in a backpack for your phone, and the screen is big enough to see most of the important stuff around you. I will probably buy a Garmin Tempe to strap to my backpack, in the near future.

Apparently Samsung are going to be releasing a Samsung Galaxy S8 phone today. I might wait until the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 as I’d really like a phone with a pen, but it still sounds like a powerhouse phone. It’ll be the only phone currently on the market with Corning Gorilla Glass 5, water resistance, USB 3.1 (useful for backing up data) and Samsung’s iris scanning technology is really quite impressive.